University of Texas in Austin School of Architecture Materials Lab
As the recession has forced many architecture firms to downsize (or do away with) their in-house materials libraries, a few enterprising organizations have come to the rescue with affordable alternatives. One of the more comprehensive online databases is spearheaded by the University of Texas in Austin’s School of Architecture, whose Materials Lab catalogs more than 25,000 material samples—from ceramics and glass to polymers and sustainable design technologies—accessible not only to students and faculty but also to the general public. For free. The Lab’s matter-of-fact and imminently navigable website organizes materials by categories on its easy-to-scan homepage. Materials can also be searched by form (foam, geotextile, plank, etc.), properties (graffiti resistant, ductile), as well as by process and application. Clarity of presentation, great photography, and helpful specs make up for the fact that not all products are the newest of the new.